March 6, 2019

Of a Kind: Shop Hundreds of Emerging Fashion Designers

Of a Kind is an online commerce company that simultaneously offers the pieces and tells the stories of up-and-coming fashion designers. In addition to fashion, they offer everything from home goods to jewelry, paper goods, and beyond. I had the chance to ask both of its co-founders, Claire Mazur (right) and Erica Cerulo (left), about the state of the business, including how it started and where it's going next.

What's the story behind Of a Kind's founding?

Friends since our undergrad days at the University of Chicago, we—Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo—founded the website Of a Kind in 2010 to sell the pieces and tell the stories of up-and-coming designers. We were very early to the idea of marrying content and commerce revolution, and our aim was to build a site where you could discover, connect, learn, and, of course, shop all at once.

What was the problem you were trying to solve?

We loved unearthing emerging designers, but, back in 2010, doing so meant dog-earring magazines, reading blogs, and then scouring boutiques—largely brick-and-mortar ones—to find their work. We thought there was a way to bring this all under the umbrella of one website—one that had a strong voice and aesthetic and one that would help the designers we met to get their stories out, which was something they were itching to do.

For those who don't know, what does Of a Kind do? How does your marketplace work?

In the beginning, Of a Kind commissioned limited-edition, exclusive pieces from exciting new designers and sold their pieces alongside a series of stories about their process, their inspiration, and the things that make them tick. That’s still core to the business model, but, to get to your next question...

How has the company evolved over time?

The business has evolved in many ways! We've expanded the product categories on the site to include home, personal care, and paper, to name a few, and we no longer sell just exclusive products. We’ve also spread our editorial wings, starting with our cultish weekly 10 Things newsletter that highlights our favorite discoveries from all corners of our lives and extending to its companion podcast, A Few Things.

How big is the team? Looking to hire for any new positions in the coming months?

Right now, we have a hard-working, enthusiastic full-time team of 10. We aren’t filling any staff positions at this time, but we are always looking for talented and gung-ho interns.

Where do you go from here?

We wrote a book, out this March! It’s called Work Wife, about the power of female friendship to drive successful businesses. It celebrates one of our greatest career achievements, our partnership, and puts it in the context of the personal-and-professional bonds that so many other impressive duos and trios of women have forged.

Alexander Culafi is Producer & Editor for VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.